Making an Impact through Film

The News Magazine of HCU

HBU Associate Professor Joshua Sikora describes Alfredo Ruiz as “one of the finest students” in HBU’s Cinema & New Media Arts program. The recent Class of 2022 graduate produced a short film entitled, “Father,” which is now premiering at numerous film festivals. The film follows an insecure young artist who contends with his feelings of inadequacy and his ego as he prepares for the death of his father who is also an artist.

The film has won numerous awards, including “Best Narrative Short” in London’s Infinity Film Festival and the “Gold Remi Award” in the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival.

“Father,” my senior project film, has been so rewarding to me in my academic career. This project was born out of a love for art but also my own questions about the meaning and purpose of creating art. I wrote the screenplay for this short film in the Spring of 2018 during a screenwriting class. When I finished writing it, I left the project alone for about two years until I revisited it and decided to bring it to life. With the help of several professors, I began pre-production in the Spring of 2021 and began production in the summer,” said Alfredo.

The multifaceted HBU cinematic arts graduate has worked as a writer, director and cinematographer on several projects, earning credits for his work on “Whole Art,” a documentary short, “The Call,” a dramatic comedy short, two short films, “Negotiationship” and “Ice Cream Shop Girls, “Leave Your Body at the Door,” a horror short film and a TV series called “Planet Poetica.” He has been hired to work on his first feature film, “Do Not Harm,” about an overworked pandemic nurse who tries to cover up a tragic mistake that took a patient’s life and the circumstances that bring him face to face with the patient’s father, written by HBU Asst. Professor Christopher Hartwell.

Surprisingly, the path to a career in filmmaking was not clear cut for Alfredo who began his academic career pursuing a degree in art therapy at HBU, the only school in Texas offering the degree program at that time. A childhood love for the arts and storytelling would be the driving forces that would lead him to change majors and begin pursuing a degree in cinematic arts.

The son of immigrant parents, his family moved to the U.S. from Mexico more than two decades ago. Growing up his parents and members of his family instilled in him a love for the arts from plays to paintings to music. Also fascinated by technology and graphic design, the combination of interests eventually led Alfredo onto the path of filmmaking.

“Looking back, I now see that while I did not own a camera, I was making movies in my head all along. It is clear that my childhood was one full of art, but at such a young age it did not cross my mind that this could be my career,” said Alfredo. “I can see that this passion for storytelling and specifically through film has been something that has been stirring in me since I was just a boy.”

After graduating from Houston’s Deer Park High School, Alfredo recalls wanting to go to a large university far away from home to “start a new life,” but describes it as “funny how God turns things around.”

“I quickly realized how much of a blessing it is to attend a small private university where one can grow close to their peers and their professors and mentors. The class sizes were not overwhelming and I felt that I could freely interact in the lectures,” said Alfredo.

He values the time he spent in HBU’s cinematic arts program and the opportunities the program afforded him to learn from professors who were not only teachers but mentors and industry professionals. He also had opportunities to work on outside projects and attend weekly film screenings and special events.

“My professors in the cinematic arts program have without a doubt had the biggest impact on my life. They have not only shown me what it looks like to be good filmmakers but good friends, family members, church members and well-rounded individuals. I aspire to be like them one day. They have been of great inspiration as storytellers and people of faith. Their love for art and life has continued to stir up the passion in me from childhood to create,” said Alfredo.

He encourages students looking to pursue careers in filmmaking to consider HBU. He describes the University as a place that has challenged him and helped him to become a better storyteller and filmmaker as well as a place where “you will be surrounded by great friends and mentors who are thoughtful and caring” and “other creative individuals who are also believers.”

“When I look back, I am aware of God’s work in my life leading me here to HBU to study filmmaking. I was not always certain of what I wanted to do with my life, much less the school that I wanted to attend, but I can truthfully say that these past couple of years here have been some of the best ones of my life yet – shaping the person that I am today,” said Alfredo.

Alfredo plans to work as a cinematographer, screenwriter or teacher and hopes to have completed several independent short films and have them accepted in notable film festivals. He also plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting at HBU.

“All in all, I am keeping my heart open for what and where the Lord is leading me as I have learned that He has better plans for me. I am hopeful for where He is taking me and the people that I will meet along the way,” said Alfredo.